Extensions by SketchUp

By publishing general purpose extensions under the company brand name, SketchUp cannibalizes its own developers community. Should there be internal rules that protect extension developers from SketchUp?

  • In the future, SketchUp employees should not publish personal projects under the company brand (but on personal accounts).

    • The SketchUp brand gives disproportionately wide exposure and promotion, which creates an unfair advantage over existing extensions for the same purpose.
    • Users assume extensions under the brand are officially affiliated with SketchUp, have significantly high quality and are covered by SketchUp QA, which is not necessarily the case.
  • SketchUp should publish “official” extensions only if they are either:

    • linked to SketchUp/Trimble products and thus unlikely to ever compete against community works (Trimble Connect, AR|VR Extension for SketchUp Viewer App, etc.)
    • be a unique SketchUp feature (Dynamic Components, etc.)

(Any new extension could be required to offer something sufficiently distinct and not replicate existing functionality or extensions, as it was already stated by the guidelines.)

Without extensions, SketchUp’s native features comprise a basic sketching tool, but don’t stand up a comparison with its competitors. Without extension developers, SketchUp is a zero.


Can you provide some background to this? I don’t fully understand the context.

I think I am debet here for some context:)
On BaseCamp, the SketchUp Team presented their material resizer. I thought it was a great tool to manage texture sizes and prevent bloated files.
A video was done shortly after.
So, a lot of exposure for their extension.
But maybe they are ‘violating’ their own guidelines and is the extension just a copy of someone else ‘s effort?

In my opinion, there are more extensions that do the same, anyone could come up with some examples and it also ‘good for competetion’ and, this goes especially for all the render extensions, each has a different feel or UI that one prefers etc.

The minute it says ‘SketchUp’ as developer, there would be a great ‘advantage’ or trustworthy feeling for most people.

My background: I have used SketchUp for more then 12 years now, and was always pragmatic and a bit weary about extensions:
Besides that it had to look good (UI or icons!) , if it did not do what it had to do I would get rid of it. I never wanted my toolbars bloated with all the various extensions just in case you would need one.

Off course my usage of SketchUp then was not continiously (sometimes lags of months) And when I had the need for it, I always wanted to start ‘clean’ thus no extension whatsoever. Hence my prejudged view of ‘native’ SketchUp extensions.
They ( SketchUp developers and Trimble) let the ball roll and decides in which direction, but I agree that without all the other developers out there, it would stop rolling on the very first bump.

I understand that the popularity of SketchUp is due to the abilty to use the Ruby API, but a great deal of it’s popularity also derived from G. don’t you think?

I do not quite understand what is asked for now. Extensions were, if I remember right, introduced in SketchUp version 4. Should the team then have stopped introducing new features into the application, as many of the features introduced since then have functionality that has previously been at least partly been implemented in extensions? Filled section cuts come first into my mind.

I’m not a person who pin-points at other persons or issues and I tried my best not to. Since this is a general issue, it would not make sense to do so.

There is an overlap of a couple of extensions (not only the one mentioned here) published under “SketchUp Team” with previously existing ones. It seems to be an omnium-gatherum for stuff by SketchUp employees that is thought to be useful. If not now then any time later the topic would come up that it is not well-defined what goes there and what not.

Competition between extension developers can be “good” as long as they try to find different approaches to solve the same problem. But it must be on a fair basis.

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from my memory the first ‘outsider’ plugin integrated into SU was ‘3D Text Tools’ [ a Todd Birch of Smustard creation ]…

I only know this because it was openly acknowledged i.e. credit where credit due, etc…

on Trimble’s watch, Bool Tools and the STL extension have been absorbed, without any such acknowledgement…

those aren’t the subject of the main issue here, most developers would prefer native integration of their concepts [ if not commercial extension ]…

however, most people “like to be kissed before they are …”, and the community has lost at least one long term plugin originator over that [ hopefully not forever ]…

as Extension developers. for Free or Fee, we are required to adhere to ‘guidelines’ for an extension to be ‘accepted’ to the EW…

these do not prevent novel interpretations of existing works but do encourage ‘due diligence’ in access competitor offerings…

whilst there are now ‘interpretations’ of ‘Free’ showing up for ‘Fee’ and ‘Fee’ showing up for ‘Free’, even this is not the core issue…

The Core Issue: [ as I see it ]

should SU/Trimble staff be exempt from the same ‘due diligence’ and ‘novelty’ guidelines required of the developer community when producing Extensions for the EW?



My memory is weak, but I seem to remember that 3D text was there in version 3 when I started using SU, or at least before the Ruby interface was introduced…

The STL extension was written by the SU Team. Bool Tools came after the Booleans were introduced to SU Pro, bringing approximately the same functionality to the Make users.

When I read the guidelines I interpreted it as an extension shouldn’t just copy a native SketchUp feature, not that it was referring to other extensions, but I could very well have interpreted it wrong. This was over 4 years ago, before my first BaseCamp and before I was as fluent in English.

I have accidentally made copies of other extension that I didn’t know existed myself. When I had finished one extension and was writing its documentation, I though ThomThom had made an extension that could be useful in the same workflow, but when searching for it I found an extension doing really the same thing as mine. Both Aerilius and I have made attribute inspectors, and I don’t know which is the oldest (but Aerilius’ one is better so that settles that :stuck_out_tongue: ). I learned just the other day that Smustard had made an edge breaking toggle, just as I had, and charged for it while mine is free.

It’s quite easy to make similar plugins, because you just can’t know all plugins there are out there. Especially not on all third party sites, However I can see how it’s problematic when plugins made by SU team member gets promoted, even if there is an existing extension that may be just as good.

I remember when I first saw the SketchUp team Attribute Helper, and I had no idea what it was for. I think I had quite recently switched to using Aerilius’ inspector (which unlike mine handles multi-selections and also has a much, much neater UI). Maybe it does something differently; I don’t know as I haven’t tested it.

Lastly, if a SketchUp team member makes an extension on paid company time, I don’t think they have the option to publish it under their own name. In such cases I think Trimble is the owner of the extension, which complicates things further.

All this said, maybe SketchUp staff should have an extra responsibility in researching what extensions there are out there before creating new ones, not to discourage the developer community?


some aide-mémoire

3D Text Tool Makes BETA Appearance - 2006-07-04

STL: [ this is on EW page and credit is given prior to it being absorbed into SU ]
Note: This extension was originally developed as separate plugins by Jim Foltz , Nathan Bromham, and Konrad Shroeder. Now, it’s in continual development as an open-source project on GitHub that’s hosted by the SketchUp team.

Bool Tools by Dale Martens [ SU v5 ]


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